Texas started its Big 12 campaign with a three-game sweep against No. 22 Kansas this weekend.
A solid offensive performance in Lawrence, Kansas, anchored the Longhorns’ (23–9, 3–0 Big 12) success, as Texas’ bats got started early in each game, accumulating nine first-inning runs. Longhorn hitters shook Kansas’ ace, senior Alicia Pille, early and often to hand Pille her first two losses of the season.
“We came in wanting to attack immediately, and I think we did a great job of that,” junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens said. “We saw [Pille] last year, and so we knew what kind of stuff she was going to bring, and we were able to make adjustments and see the ball well.”
Stephens notched seven RBIs and two home runs in the series. Junior catcher Erin Shireman and junior right fielder Holly Kern both hit home runs as well, garnering eight RBIs in total.
As a team, the Longhorns scored 24 runs and attained 35 hits against a talented Kansas (29-5, 0-3 Big 12) pitching staff.
With six players boasting batting averages above .300, the Jayhawks offense has had success this season. But the Longhorn hurlers battled pitch to pitch and managed to give up just 22 hits throughout the series.
“It’s really good as a defensive player to see your pitchers work hard every day like ours do,” Stephens said. “We just let them know we have their back and help them stay motivated and pitching a good game.”
Freshman pitcher Erica Wright improved to 10–4 after earning wins in the first and third games of the series. Freshman hurler Kristen Clark earned a win in game two and her first collegiate save in game three.
“They came in with a good mentality, made adjustments and continued to do what’s needed to be competitive,” head coach Connie Clark said.
Being able to make adjustments is something Connie Clark thinks is vital, especially now that conference play has started. Adjustments and focus helped Texas claim the final game of the series.
A leadoff home run by Kansas junior shortstop Chaley Brickey in the bottom of the seventh cut Texas’ lead to 7–5. Kristen Clark entered the game in relief with one out and the bases empty, but a single and two walks put the freshman in a difficult position.
With two down and the bases loaded, Kristen Clark got Kansas junior center fielder Briana Evans to strike out swinging to lock up the victory.
“I’m really pleased with the weekend,” Connie Clark said. “We were able to keep being competitive and our ability to make needed adjustments has been tremendous.”
The Longhorns return to action Wednesday to face Houston on the road.